Thursday, August 31, 2017

Dust (CD comp)

Thanks to Kenne Highland of the Gizmos, I've owned the debut Dust album since the 70's, although I don't believe that I was aware that there was a second album until I read Punk Rock Blitzkrieg. Dust is now best known for being the breeding ground for Marky Ramone (then Marc Bell, who went on to Wayne County's Back Street Boys and then the Voidoids before the Ramones) as well as Kenny Aaronson, who then joined the Stories for the massive hit "Brother Louie" and went on to a successful career as a session/touring bassist. Guitarist/vocalist Richie Wise became a well known record producer with bands like Kiss in his repertoire.

As an early American power trio, the band gained some popularity for their bombastic performances - especially Marc - but failed to hit big, despite touring with some major bands. After their second album failed to sell, the band split.

Oddly, the CD comp of the two albums starts with the sophomore effort, Hard Attack, and so opens with "Full Away/So Many Times", an energetic rocker, with an acoustic middle break that Marc blasts his way back in from and then ends with a major rave-up from everyone. "Walk in the Soft Rain" is a mid-tempo riff-pounder that again has a softer bridge, followed by a string'n'keyboard-laden ballad "Thusly Spoken" that doesn't really work for me, but they burst back in with a frantic riffer, "Learning to Die" which is a raver, despite an overly dramatic, almost Spinal Tap-ian, doomy passage. Another speed-driven number in "All in All", with multiple changes propelled by Marc's drums and cool vocal harmonies, then a country-ish ballad, complete with pedal steel on "I Been Thinkin'" and back to the rockin' licks for the instrumental "Ivory", where Bell really shows off. In fact, the drums are mixed pretty high throughout this whole album - he is truly the showboat here! "How Many Horses" is more medium paced and vocal-driven and less riff-oriented, but with a cool slide guitar solo, back to the bombast in "Suicide", with a fierce, Lemmy-esque bass solo by Kenny, and then some Spanish-guitar for the short record-closer, peculiarly named "Entrance".

The self-titled debut album comes next (who thought that order was a good idea?), opening with the rockin' slide tune, "Stone Woman", followed by the drivin' "Chasin' Ladies", with its nice vocal melodies'n'harmonies, cool lead guitar and varied tempos'n'progressions. Starting as an acoustic slide ballad, "Goin' Easy" builds into a slow, groovin' blues rock tune which moves into the frantic "Love Me Hard", with Bell's drums just about taking front'n'center again with his frenzied rolls, dynamics and bashin'n'crashin'. Their 10 minute opus, "From a Dry Camel" (with some of their more bizarre lyrics), is a multi-sectioned piece that incorporates tempo changes, wah-wah guitar, riffs, instrumental portions, wild bass runs and, of course, Marc's intense drumming. From there we get another slow tune, the slide dominated "Often Shadows Felt" that starts with just guitar, but builds with the addition of Bell and Aaronson and goes through several ebbs'n'flows throughout. For the final instrumental "Loose Goose" they get deliriously hectic with a simple, 50's-inspired riff that lets everyone cut loose with some wild solos.

Super enjoyable rock'n'roll/proto-metal stuff here, although there is something that just misses slightly with the songwriting that makes it understandable why they didn't hit big. They were certainly talented, but didn't have that elusive factor to push them over the edge. Still, I dig this stuff and am happy to see it being reissued.